by Bobbie Saga
A recent post on EthicalOil.org by Katheryn Marshall entitled This can’t be what charitable tax breaks were meant for is so wonderfully hypocritical and illogical.
Ms. Marshall – whose best before date expired during her CBC meltdown just over two months ago – reveals a distinct inability to answer a simple question: does EthicalOil.org take money from Enbridge?
Along with Sun Media's Ezra Levant, Ms. Marshall was lampooned Friday by the BC publication The Tyee in the brilliant satirical video Ethical Oil The Puppet Rap – when the original interview showed her incompetence in spinning talking points. It must hurt!
She continues, however, to blather on about tax credits for organizations with charitable status, but does not do a great job of that either.
Ms. Marshall, who is currently a law student, should possibly take a class in logic. Every point she makes in her article compounds a couple of problems she has – that is, a failure to be transparent about funding, and an inability to present a well thought out case for her point of view that can be backed by facts.
This time, Ms. Marshall begins her article by making reference to charities, such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She then switches to the federal government having "the right to at least insist that this is the kind of good and helpful work that’s being done: that’s why it has rules about how much money groups that get those subsidies are allowed to put towards fighting political campaigns."
Most people would agree. Hence, the rules for charitable status in the first place.
Yet without making reference to the political purpose of the organization she works for, Ms. Marshall turns her illogical pen against registered charities she claims "spend all day long hollering attacks against the oil sands."
She rightly points out that under charitable status, an organization is limited in the time spent on what can be considered lobbying for a particular cause. But her unsubstantiated claims against environmental groups can, legitimately, be turned on EthicalOil.org. It certainly begs a question of what exactly this organization is all about.
Based on its own mandate, not to mention its shameless flogging of Levant’s book of the same name, or its political connections, EthicalOil.org "encourages people, businesses and governments to choose Ethical Oil from Canada, its oil sands and other liberal democracies. Unlike Conflict Oil from some of the world’s most politically oppressive and environmentally reckless regimes, Ethical Oil is the ‘Fair Trade’ choice in oil."
And that begs the question: what else does this organization do?
Well, according to EthicalOil.org’s own statements posted on its site, it "began as a blog created by Alykhan Velshi to promote the ideas in Ezra Levant’s bestselling book Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands."
The statement continues with, "The blog, in addition to rebutting inaccurate and unfair criticisms of the oilsands, also sought to engage its readers: inviting them to write letters to their local newspapers, call talk radio stations and suggest ideas for Access to Information requests to expose the network of anti-oilsands lobbyists who meet regularly with senior Environment Canada officials."
It then goes on to say, "Within a month, based on the generosity of its readers, EthicalOil.org has become an online community that empowers people to become grassroots community activists on the front-lines of the campaign for ethical oil."
Okay! If that’s not "fighting a political campaign," it’s difficult to discern what is. And that begs the question: how did EthicalOil.org get charitable tax status?
In Marshall’s own words, it’s "a free country: any group that wants to can go out and raise money and spend all day long hollering about… that industry; it just shouldn’t expect taxpayers to help pay for it with those write-off subsidies."
Ms. Marshall either ignores or pretends EthicalOil.org – and the industry it supports – doesn’t get tax subsidies. But in the process, the article is also another thinly veiled attack on those "radical foreigners." It is an organization that does not engage with, nor give credit to Canadians, including First Nations, that might not support the claims of Levant in his book, and by extension EthicalOil.org, the tar sands, or the Enbridge pipeline project.
The wind-up doll routine of reiterating, ad nauseam, tired talking points does little to mask the roots and connections of this so-called "grassroots" organization. Here, the optics don't look good. It is suspect that big oil’s multinationals aren't trying – at all – to influence Canada's energy policies with millions being poured into a public relations war.
So now it comes back to the original question posed over two months ago: does EthicalOil.org take money from Enbridge?